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June 22, 2008 AM



MT 28:19,20

INTRO: An empty tomb. Angelic announcements. Strange appearances to disciples. Forty days of appearances and teaching concerning the kingdom of God. Needless to say, there were mixed reactions to all of this among the disciples. And the enemies of Jesus had to concoct a story about his body's having been stolen by the disciples. That story, according to Matthew's gospel, was commonly reported in certain quarters as late as the writing of his gospel record (Mt 28:15). Was this the end? Or, was this the beginning? The enemies wanted it to be the end. The disciples had certainly not been optimistic about the third day ... and had to be reminded repeatedly that Jesus had told them about His resurrection. As I look at this brief period of time, I prefer to see it as the end of the beginning.

    1. Jno 11:47-53 - "...it is expedient for us, that one man should die..."
      1. there was apparently a good bit of "hand wringing"
      2. these leaders recognized that Jesus was gaining popularity over them
      3. they even seemed to acknowledge His miracles
      4. their fear? if Jesus prevailed, the Romans would take away their position
    2. The solution? Not justice, but expediency
      1. if they could arrange for Jesus to be killed, their position would be secure
      2. better for one man to die (innocent, or not) than for the Romans to take away the last vestiges of their power
      3. a dead Jesus would be the end of the matter - their solution
      4. (but note that scripture tells us that Caiaphas prophesied of Jesus' death for a bringing together of the children of God)
    1. Jno 21:1ff - Peter's "last" fishing trip - "I go a-fishing"
      1. what was going on here? waiting? unbelief? it's over?
      2. it became an opportunity for Jesus to "prove" it was indeed He
      3. the claim that the apostles only saw "visions" - "spirits" would certainly become a very real claim to discredit them
      4. here they see Jesus, they recognize Jesus, Jesus has made a fire and cooked a meal, they are with Him
      5. 1 Jno 1:1 - there was no doubt that it was the risen Jesus!
    2. Jno 21:15ff - Peter's three affirmations of love for Jesus
      1. I would imagine this was a time of some embarrassment for Peter
      2. three denials were fresh in his memory - unforgettable
      3. "...more than these...?" - more than "things"? more than other apostles?
      4. recall Lk 22:31-33 - I suggest that this exchange between Jesus and Peter becomes a vital part of the "converted" of which Jesus spoke
      5. my guess is that one who had failed so miserably at the cross would become the most effective proclaimer of it!
    3. Jno 21:18,19 - Prophecy of Peter's martyrdom
      1. there are many traditions re: how Peter was killed
      2. however, all that John reveals is that Peter's life will be taken from him
      3. so, as the cross was always in Jesus future, martyrdom was in Peter's
      4. 2 Pet 1:12-14 - he would work while it was "day" - but "night" was coming
      5. years had passed, but he had not forgotten Jesus' words on that night
    4. Lk 24:44,45 - The light finally dawns!!
      1. His death was no accident - it was not the ultimate result of conspiracy
      2. true, human agencies had been very much involved in the events
      3. but they were only serving prophetic purpose!
      4. the apostles needed to know and understand that Jesus, His life, His death were part of God's great plan to redeem humanity from curse of sin
      5. Acts 10:39-43 - "to him give all the prophets witness"
    5. Mt 28:18-20 - The final "marching orders"
      1. with those words ringing in their ears they watched Him ascend
      2. Mk 16:19,20 - what did they do? "...they went forth and preached..."
      3. and they never forgot the cross and its significance to humanity
      4. Gal 6:14 - here was the depth of feeling about the cross

CLOSE: From a fishing trip to catch fish the apostles went forth to fish for men.  The drawing power of their preaching? Although their messages doubtless contained much that was/is needful for this world, it was the cross ... and it's still the cross ... that draws people to Jesus (Jno 12:32).

Cecil A. Hutson

22 June 2008

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)